Paul O’Dette’s Recital for the Ages

Boulder Bach Beat

Only one thing was on everyone’s mind at the Leacock Theatre [at Mount Royal University in Calgary] on 25 January 2014, and that was Paul O’Dette’s programming of a generous helping of Bach’s lute works. Originally written for the lautenwerk, a keyboard instrument (and a curiosity even in its day) made with gut strings instead of metal, it could emulate a lute so exactly when played that it even fooled experts who listened to it in an adjoining room. Bach owned two of the instruments, and even though copies have been built so as to duplicate their sound, the music left behind for the lautenwerk still poses a problem – how do we play these keyboard masterpieces for their authentically-intended sound world, namely, the lute?

Bach’s lute works have historically presented many problems for transcribers and performers, whether for guitar or for baroque thirteen-course lute, but this night…

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